Is Spotify Bad for Democracy? Artificial Intelligence, Cultural Democracy, and Law

90 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2021 Last revised: 1 Jul 2022

Date Written: March 21, 2021


Much scholarly attention has recently been devoted to ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) might weaken formal political democracy, but little attention has been devoted to the effect of AI on “cultural democracy”—that is, democratic control over the forms of life, aesthetic values, and conceptions of the good that circulate in a society. This work is the first to consider in detail the dangers that AI-driven cultural recommendations pose to cultural democracy. This Article argues that AI threatens to weaken cultural democracy by undermining individuals’ direct and spontaneous engagement with a diverse range of cultural materials. It further contends that United States law, in its present form, is ill equipped to address these challenges, and suggests several strategies for better regulating culture-mediating AI. Finally, it argues that while such regulations might run afoul of contemporary First Amendment doctrine, the most normatively attractive interpretation of the First Amendment not only allows but encourages such interventions.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, democratic culture, First Amendment, aesthetics, legal philosophy

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Gingerich, Jonathan, Is Spotify Bad for Democracy? Artificial Intelligence, Cultural Democracy, and Law (March 21, 2021). 24 Yale J.L. & Tech. 227, King's College London Law School Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan Gingerich (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

123 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102
United States


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